Traffic Calming is being explored for Montlake, and not just for our main street—24th Ave East. It’s equally important for safety and livability on all the streets of our neighborhood.
Developed in Europe in the 70’s, traffic calming is a system of street design strategies aimed to balance movement of traffic with other human interests, like walking, playing, shopping, working—you know, life. Over the years, a number of calming measures have been added to our neighborhood side streets. When you take a walk around Montlake, you can find traffic circles, speed bumps and cushions, pedestrian-controlled crossing lights, marked crosswalks, roadway striping and painting, curb bulbs and good old signage. In other Seattle neighborhoods you can also see chicanes, raised crosswalks, textured “rumble strips,” diverters, and chokers. Some have calmed traffic; some, not so much.
Now to Montlake comes even more traffic on 24th Ave E. and seemingly endless Hwy. 520 construction. We’re feeling spill-over headaches as impatient drivers look for shortcuts and faster routes along our residential streets. It sure seems like we need more of the traffic calming methods in additional locations. Jim Curtin, SDOT’s Senior Traffic Planner & leader of Seattle’s Vision Zero road safety initiative knows the whole traffic calming toolbox—and he’s not afraid to use those tools if doing so makes life safer and more pleasant on our streets—all our streets.
At the November MCC Board Meeting, Curtin explained that SDOT is still evaluating “a slew of options” for the 23rd /24th Traffic Corridor Improvement Project Phase 3. He stressed that entire “neighborhood traffic calming is a priority, no matter what design is ultimately selected” for 24th Ave E. The other day, he reiterated this whole-neighborhood concern after reviewing reader responses to the November 23, 2016 Flyer article. All along, Jim has also said that for the best solutions to be found, SDOT planners need to learn from the community about specific problems in particular locations. Your observations and experiences can then be crafted into accounts to share with SDOT decision makers. Bottom line: The better SDOT’s understanding of particulars, the more likely their fixes will work for us.
So, Montlakers, let’s do our part. We can start by naming specific neighborhood locations and the particular traffic problems observed and experienced there. Write these in the comment section following this article or send them to the Montlake Community Club Board (Board@montlake.net). Montlake Community meetings on Phase 3 will also be coming up in early 2017. Attend those meetings to be informed and to offer your specifics and particulars there. Let’s give SDOT the information they need to provide us with workable traffic calming solutions to our Montlake street safety and livability issues.
Want to know more about Traffic Calming? Here are some online resources: